Spirits, the intelligent beings of God's creation, are found living in two realms of life- the spiritual realm, home of the discarnate spirits, and the material realm, a temporary home inhabited by those like ourselves, incarnated in a dense physical body and living on a planet, such as Earth, as part of the reincarnatory process. These realms are not two worlds, as you might imagine, distinct and geographically separated from one another; instead, they exist simultaneously, only operating on different vibrational levels. In fact, they continuously interact with and influence one another, and the spirits of both these planes have always been in contact with one another.
Revealing their presence and attesting to the continuity of life and to the communication between the visible and invisible worlds, Spirits have entered in communication with humans since the latter began inhabiting the Earth. At times, this communication is subtle and does not reach us at a conscious level. Other times, however, humans can participate directly in this exchange with Spirits, and they have been doing so throughout time. Called medicine men and shaman among the primitive tribes, known as oracles, fortune-tellers and prophets in ancient times, referred to as witches and sorcerers in the Middle Age, and better known today as mediums, all of these are examples of humans who have entered into communication with brothers and sisters of the invisible world.
In its most simple definition,mediumship is the faculty that allows the individual an exchange with the Spiritual world and facilitates the communication between the two planes of life. A medium then, is someone endowed with the mediumistic faculty who acts as an intermediary, consciously or not. Because this faculty is innate in man, we are all mediums, to some degree, though we normally speak of mediums in terms of those individuals in whom the faculty is more pronounced.
The exercise of mediumship is registered across all time, religions, cultures, etc. Despite some who still deny its validity (in spite all the evidence and proof), mediumship, today, is admitted, recognized, and respected in many places around the world. Mediumship is not a privilege belonging only to Spiritism, nor is it synonymous with Spiritism. Mediumship plays, however, a major part in the education and practice of the Spiritist Doctrine which teaches us about its altruistic and noble purpose, and educates us on its manifestations and practice, and the responsibilities entrusted to participants of both the physical and material realms.
The functionality of the mediumistic faculty depends upon its manifestation as one of two major types of mediumship: the mediumship of physical effects and the mediumship of intellectual effects.
The mediumship of physical effects is that which produces material manifestations, or effects that appeal to our material senses and can be heard, seen, or perceived by all present. Such effects include the movement of inert objects, the levitation and transport of objects and bodies, sounds, direct writing, direct sound, the materialization of spirits, healing, etc. Some varieties of this faculty are common, while others are extremely rare (see table in "Physical Mediums"- on menu bar at left).
For these phenomena to occur, it is necessary to have the presence of a medium of physical effects. The perispirit of this medium projects outward a nervous-fluidic emission. The Spirit then makes use of these animalistic fluids of the medium (also called ectoplasm), combining them with its own magnetic fluids to acquire the force that produces the phenomena.*
* For more information, please see "The Mediums' Book": Ch IV Theory of Physical Manifestations, CH V Spontaneous Physical Manifestations, Ch 126)
Physical mediums may be found as voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary physical mediums are those who exert their power consciously and the phenomena by the act of their will (and with cooperation of the Spirit). Natural or Involuntary physical mediums are those who are influenced without their knowing it; the abnormal occurrences which tend to take place around them may or may not appear to them to be extraordinary. The faculty, in itself, is not an indication of disease or poor health of the medium, nor is it a cause of such (unless of course used excessively causing fatigue and weakness). A spontaneous development of the involuntary sort, when it reaches proportions that are disturbing and fatiguing to the medium and all who in contact with him/her, can be controlled by working to exercise a moral ascendancy over the disturbing spirit, which are nearly always of an inferior class (see more- "Mediums' Book", Ch XIV #162)
Physical effects such as sounds and movement/transportation of objects are normally produced by Spirits of a lower order and mediums of a less developed mode of mediumistic action. Still, all mediumship has its utility and is conceded for some beneficial purpose. These types of physical phenomena serve more to awaken the dormant faith of skeptics and others of a materialistic mindset- those who must "see [or hear] to believe". Such was the case during the beginning days of Spiritism when rappings, table-turnings and other similar effects were used to call man's attention to where he'd eventually discover the intelligent force behind the phenomena. To a certain degree, they can be educational, but, Kardec says, "they rarely exist in connection with the more advanced means of communication, such as involuntary writing or inspirational speaking." Different from the sounds and dazzling visuals mentioned above, the physical phenomena of the healing mediumship is executed by Spirits of a higher order and has a very noble and charitable application.
The mediumship of intellectual effects, which is more common, produces intelligent communications through the spoken word, writing, inspiration, intuition, etc. Unlike the mediumship of physical effects in which the spirits utilize the nervous-fluidic emission of the medium, in the mediumship of intellectual effects, the organism of the medium is directly effected by the perispirit of the manifesting spirit. The Spirit who wishes to communicate links its perispirit with that of the medium so as to influence the medium to reproduce it's thought by speaking or writing (see more in "How Intellectual Mediumship Works"- on menu bar at left).
Just as there are involuntary and voluntary physical mediums, the intellectual mediumship can manifest itself in the medium, with the latter in varying degrees of consciousness, whereby the medium may be completely conscious of the Spirit's presence and the communication given at the moment it is taking place, completely unaware of what is being communicated at the time of the mediumistic exchange, or in some degree of consciousness in between these two states.
Mediums of intellectual effects act as "interpreters" for the Spirits who use them as an instrument to communicate, be it directly to the medium or to other human beings. When exercised by mediums of moral integrity and devoted study, this faculty may manifest, for example, in inspired mediums who receive intuitions beneficial to our moral and/or intellectual progress, or in writing or speaking mediums who bring us educational and inspirational messages and teachings from higher Spirits, as well as communications from suffering and inferior Spirits who we are able to council and and and steer in a more positive direction, at the same time learning from their experiences.
In order for a medium to exercise his/her faculty with a noble interest, meaning to obtain communications from, and enjoy the company of good Spirits, or to have the support and aid of good Spirits when receiving communications from suffering or inferior Sprits, it is essential that the medium recognize the great responsibility involved in the tasks entrusted to him/her and act accordingly. These responsibilities begin with vigilance and care concerning his/her moral state, both in day-to-day thoughts and actions, as well as during the exercise of his/her mediumship. Likewise, the medium, like all of us, should be continuously working toward a personal reform and spiritual growth. Devoted study of both the Gospel and of the Spiritist works pertaining to the theory and practice of mediumship, is also necessary for the serious medium, from the most novice medium in the first stages of development to the most advanced medium with a great deal of experience; there is always more to learn, and at the same time, study keeps the mind and heart focused in the right direction. We will speak more of these responsibilities in the sections to follow.
The cause that produces mediumship is both Organic and Spiritual: As stated above, the easy vibration of the physical medium's nervous system, by which his/her perispirit irradiates a nervous-fluidic emission used by the Sprits, serves in the production of the phenomena of physical effects. Likewise, the rapidity of those vibrations allows for a certain expansion and liberty of the intellectual medium's perispirit that facilitates its connection with the perispirit of the manifesting Spirit, thereby producing the phenomena of intellectual effects. A certain organic predisposition that includes a greater degree of mediumistic sensitivity and a propensity toward the above mentioned vibrations are what allow for the ostensive mediumistic faculty of an individual. Kardec writes, "...the mediumistic faculty can be developed when the [seed for this sensitivity an vibrational capacity] exists, but it can not be acquired if the seed does not exist. This mediumistic predisposition is independent of sex, age, and temperament." ("Posthumous Works" #33, pg 54)
- The cause of mediumship is also spiritual, by definition in fact, for "without the cooperation of the Spirits, mediumship would be useless, just as our eyes would be useless if there were no light". (Rigonatti)
Barbosa, Pedro Franco. "Principios Basicos Da Doutrina Espirita" [Basic Principles of the Spiritist Doctrine. Espiritismo Basico [Basic Spiritism]. 3rd ed. Rio de Janeiro-RJ,
Schubert, Suely Caldas. "O Que É O Espiritismo" [What is Spiritism] Mediunidade: Caminho Para Ser Feliz [Mediumship: The Path to Happiness].
Schubert, Suely Caldas. "O Que É Ser Medium" [What Does it Mean To Be A Medium] Mediunidade: Caminho Para Ser Feliz [Mediumship: The Path to Happiness].
Rigonatti, Eliseu. "A Comunicação Entre Os Encarnados E Desencarnados" [The Communication Between The Incarnate and Discarnate]. A Mediunidade Sem Lagrimas [Mediumship Without Tears].
Rigonatti, Eliseu. "A Mediunidade" [Mediumship]. A Mediunidade Sem Lagrimas [Mediumship Without Tears].
Kardec, Allan. "Manifestações Dos Espiritos" [Manifestations of Spirits]. Obras Póstumas [Posthumous Works]. 8th ed. Trans. Salvador Gentile. Ed (of translation). Elias Barbosa. (translated from 6th edition in French).
Kardec, Allan. "Mediums" and "Writing Mediums or Psychographs." The Mediums' Book. 2nd ed (1st edition FEB). Trans. Anna Blackwell (translated 1876). Ed. Livraria Espírita Allan Kardec.
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